Inspired by St. Pope John Paul II’s 1990 message for World Day of Peace, in which he called for the need to upscale ecological awareness and to find fitting expression in concrete programs and initiatives, young Catholics from Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda and South Africa, drawn from and representing university chaplaincies and parish groups, joined up to respond to this invitation, and to set up the Africa-wide Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) in January 2012.
“If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” -Pope Benedict XVI
What We Do
The environmental crisis does indeed pose a huge threat to the survival of the entire continent of Africa and cannot be underestimated. But even more, this highly complex phenomenon cries out for urgent action at many levels and in many ways. If our initiatives are to be both effective and truly Catholic, they need to take deep roots in the reality of those who suffer.
CYNESA begins in our prayer for all those concerned, and for the authenticity and generosity of our particular contribution. But after that it has to take shape on the ground, in the lives of countless thousands of fellow African citizens. That means working in parishes, schools, with youth movements at various levels and creating fruitful partnerships with other agencies.
CYNESA has already identified more than 1,000 young Catholic leaders, drawn from parishes, university chaplaincies and Catholic youth movements representing 10 African countries, with a growing list of expressions of interest being received from more Catholic youth.
Our activities are tailored into three main areas:
- Education and awareness creation – We aim to prepare a toolkit on climate change that draws from scripture and Catholic social teaching.
- Networking and advocacy training – We seek to establish and build relationships with like-minded partners, and to train young Catholics in advocacy on environmental sustainability, and to link different initiatives on the continent.
- Encouraging and supporting concrete action plans at the local level – We endeavor to encourage young people to act in their parishes, schools and within their youth movements by developing appropriate sustainable practices to conserve resources.
How CYNESA’s Core Team works
The CYNESA Core team plays a coordinating role for the entire network and its members work from multiple locations, to grow and develop the network’s profile and identify resources to make this possible. The principal ways in which the CYNESA core team nourishes the network are:
- Visiting Catholic youth and their projects in each country, appreciating what they are doing and making these efforts known, strengthening initiatives already underway, and helping potential projects get off the ground.
- Encouraging those involved and inking them together in an active continental network.
- Communicating and publishing
- Publishing books –CYNESA’s long-term objective is to build capacity to publish books in Africa in English, French and Portuguese.
- Representing CYNESA and participating in national, regional and international environmental meetings.
- Undertaking research –CYNESA aims to set up a documentation centre, to facilitate young researchers.
- Offering guidance and support for environmental related projects.
- Maintaining good relations of co-operation with others working on environmental issues, with the larger Church and other youth movements world-wide
In future, CYNESA will continue to encourage new initiatives in the environmental field to get established, as well as to help Catholic youth to write on environmental issues.